MANifesto: A Call To Tender Arms

manifesto - a call to tender arms
(c) collage by gregoria green – up left: Two men dancing in The Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1984), also featured in The Celluloid Closet by Vito Russo (1995) as one of the earliest images of same-sex imagery in cinema; up right: Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey from the pop-rock band, The Smiths (1986); down left: Chris Colfer and Darren Criss as Kurt and Blaine in the American musical TV-series, Glee (2009-2015); and down right: Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer and Elio and Oliver in Call Me By Your Name by Luca Guadagnino (2017).

What is it that is so warm and endearing about two men on screen who are friendly towards each other, instead of hostile, who are touching, instead of shoving, hugging, instead of punching?

It is so securing because it means that, in that very moment, men are not at war with one another, and therefore the world itself is not at war any longer, but morphed into a delicate exchange of humanness that no manly masculine violence can touch or grasp. It is a holy and jolly communion because it speaks volumes on how we’ve accustomed men to be and behave – always at odds, against and in competition, when in truth, there is no status and no power in being another, but only who one is.

For that is the order of the world: showing affection, empathy and compassion, even when one is supposed to rule – but not over Earth or another creature, but over thyself, with dignity, as if one belonged to the third, fourth or any other gender that does not kill, maim, taint, ridicule or humiliate to feel like a real man. The reality is that manhood, as it has been depicted for decades now, is grotesque, lacks depth, genuineness or common sense.

We’re on autopilot, putting the vulnerable down out of habit, sprawling out of habit, spitting instead of tearing up, out of habit. We launch missiles, we endanger/engender species – out of habit. We run businesses, we test animals, we forge signatures and claim kingship over the land and everything that breathes. Yet, we love too, and get depression.

Oh, men with flowers…oh, men with gentle, soft-spoken words that soothe the human spirit, where are you?

manifesto - a call to tenderness 2
(c) collage by gregoria green entitled Men with Flowers; left: Chris Colfer and Darren Criss as Kurt and Blaine in the American musical TV-series, Glee (2009-2015); right: Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey from the pop-rock band, The Smiths (1986).

Is masculinity in crisis or is masculinity the crisis? Where do we begin? Let there be marches for men’s rights to be caring, tender and emotional – the new ‘civil’ rights. Anything that humanizes them and does away with antiquated gender norms and other silly social constructs is much needed. Right now,

You can do what’s right or you can do what you are told. (Days of Decision, song by Phil Ochs, 1966)

That being said, I will leave you with this resounding poem by Harold Norse (1916-2009), an American Beat poet who became a prominent figure of the gay liberation movement:

I’m Not a Man

I’m not a man, I can’t earn a living, buy new things for my family. I have acne and a small peter.

I’m not a man. I don’t like football, boxing and cars.
I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm
around my friend’s shoulder.

I’m not a man. I won’t play the role assigned to me- the role created by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell, Television does not dictate my behavior.

I’m not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick. I like flowers.

I’m not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.

I’m not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don’t hate blacks. I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.

I’m not a man. I have never had the clap.

I’m not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.

I’m not a man. I cry when I’m unhappy.

I’m not a man. I do not feel superior to women

I’m not a man. I don’t wear a jockstrap.

I’m not a man. I write poetry.

I’m not a man. I meditate on peace and love.

I’m not a man. I don’t want to destroy you

San Francisco, 1972

2 thoughts on “MANifesto: A Call To Tender Arms

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